KUALA LUMPUR: The Kedah and Penang state governments should come to an agreement immediately on the issue of raw water charges – a dispute that has been going on since 2010, says Consumers Association of Kedah (CAKE) secretary Mohd Yusrizal Yusoff.
“Although the issue is quite complex, as both parties have their own stand and views, a win-win situation between the two states can be achieved if the welfare of the people is given priority, ” he said.
He hopes that the Federal Government will intervene to find a solution to the issue that would benefit both states.
“As a representative of consumers in Kedah, we hope that the two state governments can come to an agreement on the issue soon, ” he said yesterday.
The Kedah government has repeatedly demanded the Penang government pay RM50mil a year for extracting raw water from Sungai Ulu Muda, but this has been ignored by Penang.
Mohd Yusrizal said there was a justifiable reason for Kedah to make the demand because the Ulu Muda water catchment area in the state had been well maintained, enabling Penang to enjoy raw water supply from Sungai Muda.
“There are some areas in Kedah where residents still do not have access to good water supply, possibly due to unsatisfactory water supply-related infrastructure.
“If the Kedah government gets raw water payments from Penang, it may be used to repair the water supply infrastructure for the benefit of the people in this state, ” he said.
Echoing a similar sentiment, Water Watch Penang president Prof Dr Chan Ngai Weng said the water issue should also be discussed by the Environment and Water Ministry or at the National Water Services Commission level.
Another solution is through the formation of the Sungai Muda Basin Council where Kedah Mentri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor and Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow can sit together to discuss the issue instead of issuing statements through the media.
Chan expressed concern that the dispute between Kedah and Penang was getting more intense.
In response to the announcement, Chow said the Penang government would initiate legal action against Kedah if any project implemented on Sungai Muda threatens the water supply in Penang.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Sanusi did not deny Penang’s right to water supply from Sungai Muda, but said the Penang government is required to pay Kedah for the continuous preservation of Sungai Muda.
“That is why it is important for them to pay for raw water, to enable us to safeguard the interests of those who also pay for the flow of water from Ulu Muda to Sungai Muda, ” he said when contacted.
He said Kedah would not stop voicing its demand for payment from Penang, which according to him had been extracting most of the water from Sungai Muda even though Kedah had been conserving the catchment areas. — Bernama